1237 GMT December 06, 2019
The downpour began on Friday in West Pokot County, which borders Uganda, and worsened overnight, causing flooding and mudslides that swept away four bridges and left the worst-affected village, Muino, inaccessible by road.
"We can confirm that the number of those dead has sadly reached 36. Some people who we thought were lost have been found dead," Samuel Poghisio, a senator from the county, told Reuters by phone.
"More people are marooned and the entire village is at risk of being wiped out by the floods," the county's governor, John Lonyangapuo, told Reuters by phone as he waited for a helicopter to transport him to survey the damage.
He added that rescue efforts were underway in the area, where more than 500 vehicles are stuck on roads damaged by the landslides.
Eleven of the people killed were in the same house, Lonyangapuo said.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement that he had deployed rescue personnel from various agencies including the army and the police to try to stop the "further loss of lives".
Researchers have warned that warming oceans are causing unpredictable weather patterns in East Africa.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi said the government sent military and police helicopters to help those affected by the floods, but the scope of the disaster was not yet clear.
“While rescue and recovery efforts remain the priority, a full assessment into the extent of damage caused continues to be a challenge due to harsh weather conditions,” he said.
More than 1 million people in East Africa have been affected by flooding after higher-than-normal rainfall. The latest deaths in Kenya bring to 72 the number of people who have died in a month and a half due to flooding-related causes.
The International Rescue Committee said this month that many people had been reeling from an earlier severe drought in the region. Now rains in parts of Somalia, South Sudan and Kenya are expected for four to six more weeks.
The torrential rain is uncommon for this time of year. Experts have said the changing weather patterns have a huge impact because close to 100% of Kenya’s agriculture is rain-fed.
Kenya is experiencing a heavier than usual rainy season, the Kenya Meteorological Department said in early November.
AP also contributed to this story.